At the beginning of this course, I thought I had a pretty good idea about what it took to integrate technology into a lesson. But I realize now that I had a pretty basic understanding of what integration really meant, especially when it came to integrating technology. Integrating technology isn’t just finding a video that goes along with your lesson. It’s more than projecting a PowerPoint presentation on a screen. Integrating technology means you find tools appropriate for the situation that will help the learners get more from the instruction. Sometimes getting more from instruction means that the learners were more interested and engaged because there was a technology aspect.
As I have progressed through this course, I learned the importance of really checking out the tech tools you plan to use ahead of time. Sometimes when you are planning, it’s easy to see something that looks like it should work for the situation and not really check it out. When I was planning my activities and lessons, sometimes I would find a game or activity that would work for most of my students but not all. Even with technology you have to be thinking about each student as you integrate the tools into your instruction. You have to think full circle for your tech tools before you take it into the classroom. For example, I love to use a site called Kahoot to make quizzes for review. The very first time I used it in my class, I had forgotten that the answers would only be displayed on the projected screen and not on the students’ devices. The writing on the projector was small and a few students had a hard time participating because they didn’t say they couldn’t see. If I had taken the time to check Kahoot more than I did, I could have tried to prevent that situation.
Throughout this course I have surprised myself as my understanding of different aspects of technology changed. Reading about the different categories of tech tools helped me understand that technology can almost always be used for more ways than it was originally intended. One thing that comes to mind is the module on integrating social media. Being a second grade teacher, I was skeptical that I could really find a way that could apply to my classroom and my students. Once I realized that social media and networking wasn’t exclusive to the social media tools I knew, I found ways that would work for my students and made sense in a second-grade context. Now, when there is a different type of technology tool that comes to me, I try to think of all the different ways I can use it. It’s almost like a challenge now to find new ways to integrate technology.
Professionally, I feel like this course has helped me to feel like I can take risks when it comes to using technology. This winter when I had my final evaluation and observation by my administrator, I chose to use an integrated lesson that I made in this class for my observation. I used technology in a different way than I had ever done with my class. During the observation, my students were very excited about using Chromebooks and doing the activities which meant they got a little louder than I should have liked during an observation. But my principal was impressed that I would implement technology during an observation instead of doing something that would generally be considered “safe.” I feel like I need to take those risks and let my students experience technology as part of their education because it will only become a bigger part as they go.
My own teaching practice has become more open to technology as a result of this class. Before this course, I already used technology in my class, but now I am trying to find more effective ways. I have made it a point to teach my students some foundational skills for using different types of software. Instead of just letting my students go on a writing project and having them type away on a document, I have centered the writing activities around a specific skill I want them to learn how to do within a word processor. As an example, we did a “How to” writing project. One of the requirements was to put the steps into a list in a Google Doc. They needed to decide if their how to would be an ordered or unordered list. I was surprised at how the skill transferred into other aspects of our class. After learning about the different lists, students would point out times when we could have used one of the types. I have been amazed at how my students have taken a huge interest in technology as I have been bringing it into the classroom regularly.
Reflecting on the AECT standards, I can see that I am on the road to mastery. Most if not all of the projects can be used as proof of that. Through the indicators, it is clear that I have gained a level of mastery for the standards after completing each project.
Standard 1- With Standard 1, I feel like I was able to demonstrate understanding of the content knowledge through the indicators of creating and using as well as assessing/evaluating. The projects I created show that I can create as well as that I evaluated the tools I was using. Indicators for using and managing can also be included through anecdotal evidence after trying the projects I created in my own classroom.
Standard 2- I demonstrated understanding of content pedagogy as I created the technology integrated projects and lesson plans. I sought effective ways to use the technology in the lessons to enhance student learning. The indicator for creating shows that I can apply the technology to my teaching in a way that will help students learn better. I created lessons that would used technology that would be appealing and engaging to students thus helping me create more effective instruction. The indicator for using shows that I know how to implement the use of the technology effectively. In my lesson plans, I wrote detailed instructions for using the technology in the lesson or activity. I also thought of how different types of students would need adaptations for implementation.
Standard 3- This class doesn’t really address standard 3 which is about learning environments. While the projects in this class did not directly connect to standard 3, I can say that when it comes to Using I have taken what I have learned in this class and applied it to situations at my school regarding decisions on technology implementation. I have helped my administrator work with the rest of the teachers at my school to evaluate the current software we use to determine whether we should continue to use it in the future.
Standard 4- This standard isn’t specifically addressed in this course through the projects, but as a result of this course, I have been working on helping my school create more technology-rich learning environments.
Standard 5- Research was a big part of what was required in this class. Each week the blog posts I made showed understanding of the theoretical foundations for each topic covered. As I went through the modules, I also assessed and evaluated different pieces of technology by discussing relative advantages and making connections to content and practice.
Overall, I feel like I have come away from this course with a new desire to find reasons to use technology as a part of my instruction. I have watched my students get excited as I made a point to use more tech in my classroom during this course. I can tell that my students are more engaged during activities that involve technology than they are with traditional teaching methods. I’m not afraid to use technology in my classroom even if it means everything might go wrong. If it does, I’ve just learned what not to do.
Blog Self Evaluation
I made every blog post for this course and posted it before the end of each module. I preferred the blog format for discussing content over other methods I have used in other classes. Reading other students’ posts is faster than listening (such as on a VoiceThread.) It’s easier for me to remember the points I want to comment about when I can go back and quickly reread something. I feel like I made more substantial comments in this course than other courses because of the format.
As I wrote my blog posts, I felt like I made solid connections to the content and to personal experiences relating to the content. I tried to make connections that related to each topic as well as back up those connections with quotes from the readings.
Readings and Resources: Proficient
I feel like I could have made more connections to the readings and outside resources when I was writing my blog posts. I used quotes and made connections in each blog post, but I could have done more or gone more in depth. I did use APA style for citations on every quote as well as for posting the sources, so that part fits into outstanding and not proficient.
Timeliness: Proficient (but I feel the rubric is vague here.)
I tried to post to my blog before Monday, but that didn’t always happen. I had comments on my posts even if I did post on Monday so I feel like that doesn’t fit into the proficient category because it said that it was not in time for others to respond, but I still got responses. Timeliness would have been easier to measure if a specific day of the week was mentioned (such as saying timely posts were made by Friday or Saturday, or something like that.)
Response to Other Students: Outstanding
I always made my two responses to other students blogs and I felt like they were substantial. I tried to make connections between what they said and things that I learned or wrote about. I did not post comments that were things like “Wow, this was really good.” I made it a point to pick specific things that they talked about and add to what they said.